Americans consume 99 percent of the hydrocodone produced worldwide. Hydrocodone products are by far the most widely prescribed painkillers in the United States, with Vicodin topping the list.
However, 16,000 deaths each year are due to abuse of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin. Painkiller overdose kills more Americans annually than car crashes, or than heroin and cocaine combined. While suicide and overdose-related accidents contribute to the total, it’s estimated that 75 percent of all overdose deaths are accidental.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is one of the most frequently prescribed painkillers. It contains varying amounts of hydrocodone, a powerful synthetic opiate, and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is extremely addictive. High doses produce a euphoric effect, but the body builds up tolerance to it; cravings are only satisfied by even higher, more frequent doses. Acetaminophen is a much milder drug, but most Vicodin contains about one-half gram of this medication. Two to four grams of acetaminophen can cause significant liver damage. Anyone who abuses Vicodin not only flirts with addiction, but the individual also risks the health of the liver, which is a vital organ.
How is Vicodin addiction possible?
Most people get a small supply of Vicodin from their doctor for pain management following an injury or major surgery. Others use it for ongoing, chronic pain. Patients should never keep Vicodin on hand longer than it’s needed. Accidental addiction often begins simply because the user stays on the drug for too long and builds up tolerance. Additionally, prescription drugs left around the house are likely to fall into the wrong hands.
Due to the pleasant, short-lived “high” it produces when too much is taken, many users seek out Vicodin deliberately for recreational use. A 2010 study revealed that 8 percent of high school students have abused Vicodin.
Once addiction sets in, Vicodin becomes the love of a user’s life. He’s likely to decline physically, mentally and morally. Vicodin addiction is so all-encompassing that people lose relationships and jobs over it; they can think of nothing except getting and using more of it. Many upstanding, trustworthy people fall into criminal activity, like deceiving doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions, or stealing money from friends and family to buy Vicodin from dealers. It’s the most stolen drug in pharmacy robberies. Many chain drugstores limit its sale to a few locations.
Vicodin’s popularity has recently alarmed the medical community. Medical experts, just this year, worked with the federal government to tighten controls for obtaining Vicodin. Its storage and handling will be more closely monitored, and the refill process more difficult.
What are the symptoms of Vicodin addiction or abuse?
• Drowsiness, lethargy
• Confusion, “mental fog”
• Fear, anxiety, severe mood swings
• Slow heartbeat, headaches, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, clammy skin
• Nausea, vomiting, inability to urinate, constipation
• Physical and psychological dependence, changes in personality, withdrawal from relationships, neglect of children or responsibilities
Can people recover from Vicodin addiction?
With the right treatment, recovery has a high rate of success. Long- or short-term inpatient facilities provide detox, therapy and ongoing care. Holistic professionals find that exercise and better nutrition go a long way to rid the body of toxins and replenish what was lost to addiction.
If you’re worried about the way you’re using Vicodin, call our helpline at 800-447-9081.